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Harassment Prevention Delivered

Through Live Theatre

New state law requires companies to train employees on how to recognize, prevent sexual harassment


Actor Irene Currie, left, slaps the behind of fellow actor, Ron Anderson, during a rehearsal for a training about harassment in the workplace on Dec. 20, 2019, in Bartlett. The actors work for a company called Valuable Resources Co., which trains employees about workplace harassment, sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination. (Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune)

Companies will be required to provide annual workplace training on how to recognize and prevent sexual harassment or face hefty fines under a new state law that takes effect Jan. 1.

The mandate is part of an omnibus bill called the Workplace Transparency Act, which Illinois lawmakers passed in response to the growing number of sexual misconduct allegations being made in a variety of industries.

The law initially requires companies with more than 15 workers to provide annual training aimed at preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. Starting July 1 next year, businesses with at least one worker will have to comply.

“A lot of employers are panicking,” said Kimberly Ross a Chicago-based attorney for FordHarrison LLP, a law firm focused on labor and employment.

Read the full article: Chicago Tribune | PDF Version

HR Issues? Call in the theatre troupe! Jim Kendall Daily Herald

By Jim Kendall | Oct 27, 2018

Employees might prefer an outing to see Hamilton — or maybe Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But your workers, and therefore you and your business, are likely to benefit more from an in-house human resources-related performance of Taboo Topix, a compliance training performance from Elgin-based Valuable Resources Co.

Thanks to a portable stage and scripts based on actual HR issues, followed by facilitated employee discussions of the issues involved, Taboo Topix seeks to create issue and solutions awareness among all levels of employees.

inRead invented by Teads Whatever the topic, the theatrical presentation, says HR veteran and VRC founder Laurie Huspen, “is far more effective” than the more typical speaker and power point presentation on the same HR issues.

During traditional powerpoint presentations, “I’d look up and the audience was falling asleep,” says Huspen with a mixture of humor and honesty. “How boring it is to have someone just talk at you.”

Huspen debuted her theatre concept in 2012. Her self-described “workplace training delivered through theatre” approach tends to grab and hold employee attention, in part because presentations are based on actual workplace events that resonate with an audience, which typically recognizes and reacts to real situations.

“We’re a theatre training company, a tool for HR pros,” explains Huspen, whose own experiences with discrimination in the business world led to Taboo Topix. Key elements are an initial assessment of a company’s situation and post-performance discussions that are facilitated by an HR professional.

The Taboo Topix package includes an online follow-up three months later, a way to determine how much information employees retain.

Topics center on harassment and bullying prevention, broad subjects that, in spite of the issues raised by the #MeToo movement, involve not only sexual harassment but race, gender and disability etc. harassment, Huspen says.

In fact, there are some interesting harassment statistics on the VRC website,

  1. Sixteen percent of men report being victims of sexual harassment.
  2. Retaliation is the issue in nearly half (45.9 percent) of discrimination charges.
  3. Racial issues account for slightly more than one-third (35 percent) of discrimination issues.

Presentations also are available on active shooter situations, leadership issues and diversity in the workplace — subjects that can bedevil many employers. Add medical marijuana, concealed carry and transgender issues, and smaller and mid-size businesses without full-time human resources capabilities can be overwhelmed.

Theatre isn’t Huspen’s only HR educational tool; her consulting has a traditional style as well. For one thing, the actors that make up the Taboo Topix theatre troupe aren’t HR people, and VRC’s human resources consultants aren’t actors.

In the more conventional HR consulting vein, VRC will, for example, help create a compliant hiring process for their clients. The same we’ll-create-the-process approach can work well with a other HR processes. There’s help with employee handbooks, growth issues and general labor-employment issues. It’s the theatrical approach to issues education that is unique.

© 2018 Kendall Communications Inc. Follow Jim Kendall on LinkedIn and Twitter. Write him at Read Jim’s Business Owners’ Blog at